Munshi: Ever-rolling Nostalgia

2000s: Your grandparents hijack the TV at 6 PM to watch their daily soap routine. But then, you hear a familiar sound – the quirky jingle of a program that you do not quite understand but is a fun breather between the soaps and the all-so-serious news. Munshi!

You listen to the conversations between people on screen and wait for the signature sarcastic laugh and pazhamchollu from the appooppan, with the motta and his pet kozhi making funny faces in the background.

Cut to 2020. It is a Sunday and your father decides to put on the evening news, a short distraction from the IPL match, right on time for another episode of Munshi. And you admire how the show still evokes nostalgia while it has adapted to the new order of things.

The Concept

According to Anil Banerjee, the writer and director of Munshi, the proposal for an under 3-minute satirical take on contemporary happenings in Kerala was inspired by a cartoon series called ‘Sakshi’ in Kungumam Magazine. He consulted with P.V. Krishnan, the brains behind Sakshi. The cartoonist gave a thumbs-up for the idea but said that he doubted its sustainability.

The show kicked off in September 2000 as a live-cartoon tele strip that follows a typical ‘Vedivattam‘ style wherein people gather in for a small talk on daily life under the shade of an aalmaram or a chayakkada, a routine common to the long-lost village culture of Kerala.

The Grind

Creating Munshi’s content is no easy task. The scripting of a typical episode is completed by around 3 PM, and the shooting, along with post-processing, is completed by 5 PM.

The actors are all based out of Thiruvananthapuram so they are able to stick to this routine. But Anil says that the hustle has been getting harder over the years. Things were fairly simple early on. But these days with minute-by-minute updates, prioritising and zeroing in on a topic has become way more challenging. 

Munshi Episode 1

The Hustlers

Director : Anil Banerjee

Cameraman : Ajai kumar GR (for the Past 19 years changed recently).

Munshi: initially played by KP Sivasankara Kurup for the first 10 years of the show. The mantel was passed on to Achuthath Vasudevan Krishnan Moosad when he went into politics.

Member : Venu (also appears in Chota Mumbai, Thilakkam, Kadha Parayumbol, Utopiyayile Rajavu, and Pachakuthira).

School student (with a pazhampori in his hand): Reju VN, Sreeju Nedumangad

Kariyachan (seen with neck brace): Ayyappan

Panicker (always wearing formals): Sreekumar

Motta: Bajiu and then Hareendran  

Hajiyar (carries an umbrella): Radha Krishnan and then Rajendran

Sakhavu: Madhu Elavattom

Barber: Ranjith

Poojari: Dileep

Chetthu: Suresh Kumar

President: Santhosh Kurup, Nagesh Babu, Jikku Chacko

And many more…

Sreeju Nedumagad and Ayyappan has been a part of Munshi from the start and along with the director have their names in the Limca Book of Records as the TV show with most number of episodes telecasted.

Also, actors like Alencier, Sasi Kalinga, Muhammad Perambra all have been featured in some episodes of Munshi.

COVID-19 Effect

Munshi has been a part of our lives (and our living rooms) for the past 20 years. But the COVID situation led to a break. The shooting has resumed now in an indoor shoot setup, with all the COVID protocols, in a studio in Peyad, Thiruvananthapuram.

With the sets filled with recognisable iconography and architecture of the capital city including KSRTC Buses, Temple, Keralapuram Spice market along with an ambalakkala donning a mask, the show is back with relevant content for its daily viewers.

This show, which starts and ends with the cock-a-doodle-doo, stands as a testimony to the fact that ‘Good things may never have to come to an end’ and remains to be of those things that made our childhoods memorable.

References:
https://malayalam.indianexpress.com/television/munshi-tv-programme-anil-banerjee-interview-latest-episode-358024/
https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/munshi-completes-4000-episodes/article2564353.ece

Feature courtesy: Asianet News

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